Wednesday, October 7, 2015

NCRS Harvest

 So even though I always hate to admit that summer is over, harvest is in high gear at the NCRS.  For field crops, soybeans are the first to go.  In the picture below the combine harvests plots while the tractor and drill in the background plants wheat.
As has been done for years, the beans from a plot are unloaded into the scaled grain cart for yield determination.  That's Zouheir on the left with Stephanie, getting his first experience of harvest work at the NCRS.  This was actually last Friday.
It rained over the weekend, and was wet and foggy on Monday, so the switch was made to corn.  I actually was out yesterday (Tuesday) and rode in the cab with Phil.  This particular field on Farm 9 was a nitrogen experiment running over 200 bu/a.
 Here is Tim up in the grain cart collecting a sample for moisture and test weight.  That is the scale readout in front above Tim's arm, and there is a mounted iPad where the weights are recorded.  The scale is set for two pound increments, which is plenty accurate for the large sized plots.
 And back at the farm office is Stephanie who today is running the corn samples for moisture and test weight.  Those numbers are entered into another iPad, and are automatically matched up with the scale plot weights and calculates the yield.  Then it averages the four replications, and like magic, we have the treatment averages summarized almost as soon as the harvest is complete.  Tim and Stephanie are super smart with iPads and computers.  I was fine with paper forms and pencils in the past.  But as you can see, I am no longer working there. 
A couple of weeks ago, the Specialty Crop crew harvested the Concord grape experiment.  This harvest is all by hand and clippers.  So extra help is a help. There are different fertilizer treatments under evaluation down the rows.
 These grapes are really sweet.  Good enough to eat!
Eric seems to be taking that a little too literally.  We occasionally kidnap people from the office and turn them into field workers.  Eric, who manages all the promotional items and the store, doesn't seem to mind.
 The grapes from each plot are loaded into a tote and weighed.  Then samples are collected for brix (sugar) measurements.  Jacob shows the production from a plot.  We also promote that our  grapes are pure and untouched by human hands.  Thus the gloves.  I mean that just makes sense.
I have lots of pics of various harvest operations that I will share in the coming weeks.  This is an important and kind of nervous time as we find out how all of the experiments turned out after the long growing season.  Just like farmers all over the country.  (Really farming is an experiment with all of the input selections being tested and verified in the yield.) 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Crops Starting and Finishing in Oklahoma

So last week I went on a fertilizer mission to Oklahoma.  Lot's of important things to see there.  I thought I would open with a tribute to a program on our website about how Real Ranchers trust AgroLiquid in their operations.  More on that later.

One thing I went to check on is some of the crop research that we have.  Like this replicated milo (or grain sorghum) fertilizer experiment West of Oklahoma City.  Harvest is not far off, so soon we will see what rose to the top as far as fertility inputs on yield.  But it looks pretty good at this point.
We also have some cotton plots.  As always, weather played a factor in Oklahoma crops this year. This site received over a foot of rain in May, with other areas getting up to 20 inches.  So that hurt wheat, but it did provide moisture in the soil for summer crops.  Depending on when they were planted.  But the milo and cotton are looking good here. 
Here is a nice field planted to winter wheat for pasture.  This is a customer of Retail Partner Parker Christian in Cordell, which is in SW Oklahoma.  It is usually dry down here, but using no-till and drill-applied Liquid gets the crop off to a great start.  Most of the wheat around here received 3 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 5 gal/A of High NRG-N and a pint of Micro 500.
Cotton is also a big crop in the area.  Again, due to dry conditions, no-till and band applied AgroLiquid results in great fertilizer effects on cotton growth and yield.  This is some low-land cotton that is pleasing to both the eye and touch.  Parker agrees.
And it's loaded with bolls.  This field received 3 gal/A of Pro-Germinatro + 1 qt of Micro 500 in-furrow at planting, and then a surface band of 15 gal/A of High NRG-N off to the side of the row.  So all of the fertilizer was applied at planting...quick and easy.  And obviously effective.
One thing that was seen is glyphosate-resistant pigweed.  Parker says that the new genetics in cotton that will enable application of 2,4-D and dicamba will be popular...once they are approved.
We also visited another grower who used a similar program on his milo crop.  Here it is ready for harvest.  (He got some extra help with dry down from the wind turbines in the background that blew warm air over the maturing crop.)  This was a new user of AgroLiquid this year, and he said he is very pleased with performance and how easy it was to apply.  He further said that he is anxious to come up to a Research Field Day next year.  Well get in line.
Here is another field of AgroLiquid milo that was interesting.  This field was under center pivot irrigation during the season, and you can easily see where the edge of the irrigation is.  The dryland milo in the foreground had to sit there all summer and watch the lucky milo just a few feet away drink their fill.  Placement is everything.  
 The next day I went up to Perry, Oklahoma to see Retail Partner Todd Woods.  Todd has been selling AgroLiquid for quite a while, but also farms and has he would be a real rancher too. In fact here is one of his wheat pasture fields that was planted less than two weeks ago.  It received an application of Pro-Germ + High NRG-N + Micro 500 through the drill.
 Here we are at a field up near Enid.  It was really dry, not like most of the no-till fields.  Well not everyone no-tills, and sometimes a field just needs to be smoothed out.  It looked good, but in need of a shower.  This field had the fertilizer streamed on after planting, which may not be as good as a drill application, but still works really well compared to most other fertilizers.  Wait, did I say most?  I meant all.  Todd is going out with a shovel for a closer look.
 Well when we got back to Todd's farm later in the day, I found access to my car blocked by a heard of ferocious sheep.  So I set up my computer and started a fertilizer presentation, and I was able to leave after they all fell asleep. 
But it was a good trip as I got to see some research, Retail Partners and some sheep.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ohio Farm Science Review Review

So last week was the 53rd annual Farm Science Review show in London, Ohio.  It has long been one of the premier outdoor ag shows, so of course AgroLiquid is a regular exhibitor.  I drove down with Regional Sales Manager Bob to help set up the tent with him and Sales Account Manager Kurt.  Again I observe that there was some assembly required as we unloaded the car and pickup into piles of stuff to be made into displays.  Below we see Bob in step 1 of 689.  As usual I help by taking pictures of other people working.
 But by sunrise the next day we were ready for business.  What do you think?
 I managed to walk around some to see other exhibits.  It is quite a big show, with exhibits covering 80 acres.  I liked this creative combine display.
 Blue Stone Solutions is a Retail Partner of AgroLiquid down in Ohio, and they had their own tent and display.  Of course it was about as far as possible from our AgroLiquid tent.  But I was up for a walk.  They also sell cover crops, and had some large "grow out" boxes to show the depth of the root growth.
 Brenna explains the benefits of cover crops and root penetration to some curious growers that stopped by.  I tried to take a picture of the roots, but they didn't show up very well due to glare.  But they were clearly visible if you saw them live.  They are a little heavy though.
Back at the AgroLiquid tent, people are learning all they ever wanted to know about our nutrient benefits.
Well there was an extra seat on an airplane headed North in the late afternoon, so I hopped on board as I had stuff to do the next day back at AgroLiquid world headquarters.  Here is a pic of the site. Our tent is down there, and I made sure that no one was goofing off as I flew over.  In the end, it was reported that over 116,000 people attended the show over the three days.  
So come on by for the 54th annual show next year.  Our tent will be bigger and better than ever, I'm sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Palouse in the Fall

So last week I was on a Fertilizer Mission out in the Palouse area of the Pacific Northwest.  (And fyi: the "louse" part rhymes with "loose".  So don't be a louse and say it wrong.) I have written about it in the blog before, but in the summer when all was green with fields of wheat and field peas.  It is a region of hills and valleys formed back in the Ice Ages that covers SE Washington, NC Idaho and parts of E Oregon.  The area is also called the Inland Empire.  But it is very unique and has intensive farming, so a good place for using AgroLiquid.

I flew into Spokane, WA and was met by Field Agronomist JW.  We just had to have dinner that night at my favorite restaurant there called Anthony's.  It overlooks Spokane falls and has great seafood.  I have shown this view before when it was sunny.  In fact the whole week was mostly cloudy and cool.  
Spring and winter wheat harvest is in the past now leaving fields in various conditions awaiting seeding of winter wheat.  These pics don't really show how steep the slope is and it's hard to believe how there aren't more field equipment turnovers.  But the Quad Trac tractor is quite common as are combines with self leveling heads.  Now a lot of the ground is not worked in between crops as seen here.
But a lot of it is still tilled, as it has been for many years.  You will often see this where low ground is worked but the slopes are not.  But also fields where even steep ground is worked.
And on dry and windy days, this is what a tillage operation looks like.  There is a tractor and tillage tool in there somewhere.  
Well there is a fine organization called the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (PNWDSA) working to un-promote tillage.  Direct Seeding is like No-Till, where the crop is seeded directly into the undisturbed ground.  Saves time, fuel, money, moisture and as we saw above, soil.  With vast improvements in drill technology, the crop grows very well.  Go their annual conference in January to learn more.  (By the way, JW used to work for the USDA surveying land in this area.  He would measure fields and flag grass borders on the sides of hills like this that are too steep to farm. Certainly a young man's job, but I'm sure JW will say that he can still do it.)
In fact we spent some time with Kay Meyer who is the Executive Director of the PNWDSA.  She was kind enough to attend one of the Research Field Days, and invited me out to see them.  So I did! She is well connected and we had some meetings with some researchers at the University of Idaho to introduce AgroLiquid products and discuss options.  Here Kay studies some of the soil monoliths on display at the agronomy building.  Very cool.  We also met with some folks at nearby Washington State University.  Those two schools are only eight miles apart which is a unique situation.
Kay took us around to meet and greet some area growers like this one in Idaho.  You can see in the background that he is a direct seeder.  This is the Ag Pro direct seed conservation drill that he uses.  It applies three different types of fertilizer.  An in-furrow liquid, some ATS and dissolved KCl and we won't discuss the gas tank.  But we will see how some AgroLiquid compares. 
You know I'm always up for seeing some sights throughout my travels.  Like in the small town of Uniontown is the first Catholic church of Washington.  It was built by the mostly German farmers who moved West from Minnesota in the late 1800's.  It was started in 1882 and after a delay, opened in 1905.  Still open today.  Very pretty.
And here is a pretty view of the scenery looking over lavender plants, from the farm where Kay and her husband live near Uniontown in Colton. (Kind of twin cities, or towns, I guess.) She and her husband are the fifth generation living in the house there.  They have really landscaped the grounds and have a site that hosts country weddings in their big red barn.  Nothing wrong with diversification like that, plus it brings people out to see agriculture. 
 So after a week, it was time to say goodnight to the Palouse.  
Already looking forward to my next trip.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Field Day Across the Lake

 So last week after the last Research Field Day at the NCRS on Tuesday, Nick and I were across Lake Michigan in Manitowoc, WI for yet another field day on Thursday.  This one was put on by Poplar Farms Sales & Service owned by Bill Brunner.  Bill has been selling AgroLiquid for around five years, and works with Retail Partner Steve Darrington who is well know in Liquid lore.  Bill decided that if he was serious about promoting sales even more, he needed to prove performance in his own area.  So he had the option to lease some farm land near his store and set up some trials.  As it turned out, it was perfectly set up for field plots with grass lanes accessing all parts of the farm.    Bill worked with Field Agronomist Dan Peterson to develop the field plot layout and treatments, and got them planted.  The drone pic below shows the layout with mostly corn, but also soybeans and alfalfa.
There were around fifty growers who showed up for the morning and afternoon sessions.  Always hoping for more, but those that were there were curious to see what Liquid is all about. Some were existing Liquid users and some were prospects.  So it was a good mix.  To get started, after hearing Nick talk about products and company history, they had to listen to me talk about how the products are different and how they are well-researched.  Which was a good lead in to the plot tour.
There were a number of side-by-side plots, like this one for corn which had Pro-Germinator on the left and 6-18-6 + Avail on the right.  I'm always a little nervous showing up in plots for the first time and peeling back husks revealing ears, and hoping that ours look better.  But fear not, Pro-Germinator was clearly the winner with much bigger ears.  
Agronomist Dan had a root pit to show corn roots and how different sub-soil factors can affect growth.  Very interesting....
Nick talked about various nitrogen fertilizer options for corn.  Right sources, rates, timing, and placement, plus tank mixes and other comparisons were on display.
Gathered around the liquid planter are Dan, Pat from Poplar Farms, a trapped grower, and Steve Darrington.  Hey, he's smiling at least.
One good way to get folks to attend a field day is to have a good lunch.  And it was, so they did.

Poplar Farms is also a seed dealer, and Steve gives a tour on the nice old Oliver tractor.  Guess what one of their brands is?  Looks nice all in a row there.
The clouds finally broke when Dan talked about foliar feeding of soybeans.  Looking good and loaded up with pods.  The beans, not Dan.  There are also some alfalfa plots across the lane.
So that was a worthwhile day seeing the results of all the hard work and planning by this particular retailer.  I'm sure it will payoff in more AgroLiquid being used in the area.  So growers could not only hear about it, they could see it too.  And that's probably better anyway.